Attribution Models: Going Beyond the Last click

Category: Analytics


Online advertising has introduced both new opportunities and new challenges to marketers. While every touchpoint along the conversion path is highly measurable, marketers have still faced the challenge of allocating their budgets between all of their different channels to find the perfect marketing mix to increase their revenues. This problem can be solved by using an attribution model that helps advertisers to decide how, when, and where to spend their money across the customer journey for maximum results.

What is an attribution model?

Attribution models are used to determine the value of each customer touchpoint leading up to a conversion. They help advertisers to understand their customer’ journey and justify their marketing spend allocations.

There are two different kinds of attribution models:

1) Single touchpoint models, where one touchpoint gets all of the credit for the sale, such as:

  • Last Click

  • First Click

  • Last Non-Direct Click

2) Multi-touchpoint models, where credit for the sale is spread over several marketing channels, such as:

  • Linear

  • Positional/U shape

  • Time Decay

Why switch from using a last click model?

The focus on “last click” or “last touch” conversion drivers alone can result in millions of dollars of untapped opportunities associated with acquisition-related marketing efforts.


Consider the hypothetical series of events associated with a typical multi-touch online campaign (shown in the above figure) where the conversion event is associated with the fourth visit. Using the “last click” attribution model, the conversion would likely be associated with the most recent campaign, in this case the paid search click occurring in the third visit. However, the conversion would not have happened if not for the three previous visits driven by a banner ad plus both organic and paid search efforts.(Source)

The importance of multi-channel attribution models

The reality of marketing in the digital world is that not all campaigns are created equal. The biggest challenge for marketers is to optimize their marketing revenue across different channels. Multi-channel attribution has the ability to measure the value of an interaction and weigh that value against other interactions based on the role of that interaction in the conversion funnel. Positional or U-Shaped attribution are some of the best models for multi-channel attribution. You can get started on using these attribution models using our LXR RETAIL tool. The U-Shaped model assumes that the search keyword that initiated a converting path and the keyword that secured it should be highly valued, while giving less recognition to interim searches, as in the example conversion path with U-shaped attribution.

As the digital marketing industry has evolved, advanced search marketing platforms are now able to give further insight into how customers behave when interacting with digital advertising. We can also track activity across multiple channels in a single reporting system to then analyze our customers. These insights have given marketers the advantage of understanding the entire purchase funnel and the marketing activities that impact each path of the customer, rather than giving credit for conversions to the last ad clicked.

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